Official launch of the Gozo Action Group – GAG
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The launch of the Gozo Action Group (G.A.G) Foundation as a public private partnership in Gozo was officially announced today. The foundation’s main aim is that, through its establishment, Gozo may be able to participate in the LEADER Project – a new approach for the Maltese Archipelago that can be implemented under the Rural Development Plan 2007-2013.
The GAG Foundation is the result of a consultation process between local stakeholders that started in 2006, which included several meetings with national and international experts. The Ministry for Gozo said it was instrumental in the foundation of GAG, by providing services through the NGO Centre in Xewkija. The GAG is a non-profit foundation composed of Local Councils representatives, NGOs, the general business sector, the tourism sector and also the agricultural community. All Local Councils in Gozo are founding members and have appointed three mayors as their representatives on the board, which also includes another four NGO representatives. Dr Joseph Grech was chosen as chairman and Mr David Apap as vice-chairman, whilst Mr Antoine Vassallo and Mr Joe Cordina were chosen as secretary and treasurer respectively.
The Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono said that Gozo is considered as ‘rural’ and since the 14 Local Councils in Gozo are all members, actions can be implemented everywhere encompassing the whole community. She also mentioned that a good proportion of the Gozitan economy is based on agriculture and rural environment whilst adding that the eco-Gozo initiative will definitely help towards the development of this sector. Minister Debono emphasised that this new foundation is going to be another means which will broaden consultation with Gozitan individuals and entities in order that more opportunities from EU programmes may be tapped for the benefit of sustainable rural development in Gozo. The leader initiative is one such example which will also merge within the Eco-Gozo concept. The EU Programmes Information Unit, which was recently set up within the Ministry for Gozo, will definitely have an important function by offering its assistance to GAG.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information, Chris Said, said that through the GAG Gozo will have the opportunity to start benefiting from the EU Leader project initiative. All sectors within the Gozitan society will have the opportunity that together they develop and implement specific strategies for Gozo. The Parliamentary Secretary also urged that the GAG must strive to maximize the talent’s potential and innovation in Gozo, as well to develop a strategy for the benefit of Gozo and its Gozitans, while it becomes an active policy maker and an example of Public Private Partnership built on the island interest. The Leader initiative allows citizens and interested parties to determine the regional sustainable development. The GAG shall be an effective tool through which this objective may be reached. He ended by saying that the Leader initiative will also help the government to attain its goal of making Gozo an eco-island.
All individuals, businesses and entities in Gozo are invited to enrol as members of this group, which is prepared to immediately start promoting the LEADER scheme in Gozo as well as starting the consultation process to define the Local Development Strategy.